Fashion Photographer Simon Procter Gives Us An Inside Look Into The Life Of Karl Lagerfeld With New Rizzoli Book LAGERFELD: THE CHANEL SHOWS

Karl LagerfeldPhoto Credit: Lagerfeld: The Chanel Shows by Simon Procter, Rizzoli New York, 2019

Though he passed away earlier this year, Karl Lagerfeld still is and always will be, one of the most recognized and iconic names in fashion. Famed fashion photographer Simon Procter was one of the lucky ones who got an inside look into the behind-the-scenes world of the fashion legend and of CHANEL, and has today come out with a book, with Rizzoli New York, entitled LAGERFELD: THE CHANEL SHOWS. In the book, Procter presents 10 years of CHANEL’s most impactful fashion shows, with his original images that showcase his unprecedented access from Lagerfeld and CHANEL. The reader embarks on a journey of some of the most memorable and renowned fashion shows in the world, while simultaneously getting a glimpse into Lagerfeld’s unparalleled vision and his elusive personality, thanks to the intimate relationship that Procter had with the master. Here, I sit down with Procter—who has become one of the most collectable photographers of his generation since his debut exhibition at Art Basel Miami Beach in 2008—to discuss his book, his photography, and working with Karl Lagerfeld on such a close basis.

karl lagerfeldPhoto Credit: Lagerfeld: The Chanel Shows by Simon Procter, Rizzoli New York, 2019

DM: Tell me a bit about your book Lagerfeld: The Chanel Shows, in your own words.

SP: I think the book is unusual in that it is both a documentation of quite an extraordinary series of shows (in terms of scale and budget) and also a series of artworks in their own right. I was very lucky from the beginning (some 15 years ago) to be given both special access and the freedom to interpret what I saw.

DM: In your experience, what as it like working so closely with Lagerfeld and Chanel, over the years? 
SP: On a practical level, it was extraordinary. The high, high level of respect that Karl inspired in the fashion world internationally meant that anyone working so closely with him was taken very seriously. It made my other projects easier. On a personal level, he was just a great person to work with; he believed in the artist, from the very first project he told me that I must decide. He never interfered. But he was a very busy man. One of the reasons we worked together so often [was] because we worked fast.

chanelPhoto Credit: Lagerfeld: The Chanel Shows by Simon Procter, Rizzoli New York, 2019

DM: What are some things that people don’t know about Karl Lagerfeld that you saw first hand?
SP: He was always polite with every single person on the set. I always remembered that when he arrived, he would greet everyone individually. I have never seen that before or since. And Karl Lagerfeld was wickedly funny.

karl lagerfeldPhoto Credit: Lagerfeld: The Chanel Shows by Simon Procter, Rizzoli New York, 2019
DM: What drew you to Karl Lagerfeld and CHANEL, for you to have worked so closely with them over the years?
SP: Well, my fashion show series kind of happened by chance, as many things do. And if you are shooting fashion shows, then the pinnacle is pretty much CHANEL. Due to pressures of my schedule, I rarely have time to shoot anything but CHANEL and Dior. And again, by chance, I sort of became Karl’s photographer in Paris for the big U.S. fashion magazines.
DM: What do you hope for readers to take away from your book?
SP: I think the sheer wonder of it all. I came to fashion shows originally as an outsider, and just thought it was all wondrous: the scale of it and the intensity of creative endeavor for something that lasts about 20 minutes.
DM: What are some of your favorite shots in the book and why?
SP: [It’s] hard to pick one, but the series in the 2010 couture show. Karl asked me personally to shoot in this position and it was such a strange experience to chat quietly with him as 60 people all around him worked manically to start the show.

 

karl lagerfeldPhoto Credit: Lagerfeld: The Chanel Shows by Simon Procter, Rizzoli New York, 2019

DM: What inspires you in your photography?
SP: I never really think in terms of photography. I was trained as a fine art painter and I have a slightly different perspective on the creation of an image. The inspiration for which can come from such a wide variety of sources and also the point at which the piece is complete is a lot less fluid. As of right now, I’m playing with the new generation of A.I. painting apps and thinking a lot about the 19th century Belgian painter James Ensor.

DM: What’s next for you and what can we expect from you in the future?
SP: In Spring 2020, we are hoping to go into production on my first feature film, Lapin Noiran ambitions dark spy story.

karl lagerfeldPhoto Credit: Lagerfeld: The Chanel Shows by Simon Procter, Rizzoli New York, 2019
For more information on Simon Procter, please visit his website by clicking here. For more information on Rizzoli or to purchase LAGERFELD: THE CHANEL SHOWS, please click here.
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